Doggie Doors: Access to the Outside

At one time or another, most dog owners have wondered what joys a doggie door would bring. Imagine sitting down to your breakfast or dinner without keeping an eye cocked at the door, in case he needs to answer nature's call. Or an end to the looks between you and your spouse/significant other, communicating the silent question: "Whose turn is it to take the dog out?"

Ah yes, there are many advantages to a pet door – if the right one is selected and installed properly, and you use it the right way. It goes without saying that a pet door should only lead out to a securely fenced yard, but this point is so important, we're going to say it anyway. The fence should be secure enough to prevent your dog from leaping over or digging under it. It should also be locked from the inside.

With that said, there's another important point to know about pet doors: it's no excuse to leave your pet alone for long periods. In fact, a pet door should be closed and locked when you're gone for many reasons:

Finally, your dog will still miss you like mad. These aren't points against installing pet doors, just aspects to consider on choosing and using them. On the plus side, your dog will be able to relieve himself at will (assuming he's housetrained), and he can amuse himself indoors or out when you're busy around the house

Doors range in styles, features and of course cost. They run anywhere between $25 to almost $1,000. For larger breeds of dogs, expect to pay $120 to $200.

Technology has ridden to help solve the problem of unwanted animal intruders. Electronic and electromagnetic doors, which only open in response to a "key" on your pet's collar, are now available. These doors are locked until your pet comes within a few inches of the door. The "key," attached to your pet's collar, sends a signal to unlatch the door. The pet can then walk through the door, which falls back into place and locks.

The cost of these doors is surprisingly low – between $60 and $100 for certain models designed for small dogs. The cost goes up with the size of the door – larger breeds may cost several hundred to $1,000.

Note: Remember to buy a door for the size of your dog as an adult to save money and labor. The opening width should be a little wider than the widest part of your pet, and the height should be measured from the top of the shoulders to the chest, just behind the front legs.